10th Oct 2013
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Travel cash card
Travel cash card

Just as you choose your accommodation, activities and travelling partners, you should also give careful consideration to how you take your money when you travel.

Q. Marilyn
Just wondering if you think the Australia Post cash card or the MasterCard travel cash card is best.  We are travelling to the United States and wonder which is the best way to take our money.

A. Good question Marilyn. 

The Australia Post cash card, the Load&Go Travel Card, allows you to hold up to five currencies on the one card and use it anywhere Visa Cards are accepted, including ATMs displaying the Visa logo. The five currencies available are AUD, NZD, USD, GBP and EUR so this would be fine for your purposes.

The Load&Go Travel Card has the ability to lock in the value of the currency before you leave on your holiday. It is easily available, and free, to purchase and reload from any Australia Post outlet. However, if you reload your card via Internet Banking your bank may charge a fee for this, so it is best to check this with your bank before you leave.

Also, it's worth noting the fees and charges assciated, which you can view at auspost.com.au. You will be charged nine cents for each transaction, not ATM, up to a maximum on 99 cents in any month. Also, ATM operators may charge a fee for using the card which will be deducted from your balance.

And finally, there are plans to impose a weekly withdrawal limit of $250 from 1 November 2013, so this may not be enough for your needs.

Alternatively, the MasterCard Multi-Currency Cash Passport travel money card can be used at over two million MasterCard ATMs worldwide and 35.9 million locations including shops and restaurants that accept MasterCard. You are able to load 10 currencies the card – AUD,USD, EUR, GBP,NZD, THB, CAD, HKD, JPY, SGD which could be more practical if you have a stopover on your way to or from the US.

There is an initial fee of 1.1 per cent of the load or AU$15, whichever is the greater when setting up the card, and charges also apply when you reload the card – one per cent of the reload amount if using BPAY. Again, you may be charged a fee by ATM operators when withdrawing cash.

The market for prepaid travel cards is exploding, with Qantas now also getting in on the act. Qantas Cash enables you to load up to nine different currencies and as with all cards, there are fees involved. If you're a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, you can earn points for each transaction, which may make this a more attractive option. You can find out more at Qantas Cash.

Lastly, I would suggest contacting your own financial institution and asking which services it can offer. Often you can access your own cash with minimal fees if you use a certain ATM while travelling.





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    aquatrek
    12th Oct 2013
    12:16pm
    Being a member of frequent flyer I have signed up with Qantas Cash - the only issue is that either Bpay or POLi transfers take 2+ business days: so best to think in advance as to what you would need.
    micko
    12th Oct 2013
    12:24pm
    Look at GE Capital's 28 Degree Mastercard.....it is a credit card with a high interest rate, but if you load it up with cash you can make ATM withdrawals overseas, get a good conversion rate & be charged only a small transaction fee. There are also no international transaction fees on purchases, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee.
    Rob
    12th Oct 2013
    8:22pm
    micko ge have just advised of new fees to be introduced for cash withdrawals from atm's. the lack of fees for cash withdrawals has been for me the major benefit of the 28 degree card?
    micko
    12th Oct 2013
    9:09pm
    rob...I thought that might have been for a cash advance. I usually load my own cash into the card & withdraw that, but I'll check with GE. Thanks for your concern :)
    MICK
    30th Nov 2014
    7:21am
    Its a good card but a nightmare to get. If you're a pensioner don't bother applying.
    MICK
    30th Nov 2014
    7:27am
    Debbie: it would be good if you could spend some time in your article talking about the actual fees. The biggest one is the exchange rate and most providers DO NOT charge the forex conversion rate. So apart from other fees, and plenty of them, YOU DO NOT GET THE ACTUAL EXCHANGE RATE at time of loading.
    For those who are not aware I give an example: the current AUD/USD exchange rate is $0.86 when you go to load your card, but the bank only gives you $0.82.....so you have already lost a big chunk of your money. And then the other fees are added. Expensive.
    So what cards have the lowest overall fees?
    micko
    30th Nov 2014
    10:35pm
    Mick...I now travel with a Citibank debit card. No annual fee, no conversion fee, a good exchange rate when withdrawing local currency from an overseas ATM and pay only their small transaction fee. Google it and talk to Citibank about it.
    MICK
    1st Dec 2014
    3:33pm
    I believe that there is a 2.5% currency conversion fee. Not the best but not too bad from what I can see.
    micko
    1st Dec 2014
    9:41pm
    micko
    1st Dec 2014
    7:06pm
    remove reply Talk to the bank....there are no conversion fees.

    Citibank Plus Account

    The VISA debit linked to the Citibank Plus Account offers no international fees for ATM withdrawals or transactions. The card features:

    No currency conversion fees with market rates ret by VISA
    No Citibank fees for international ATM withdrawals (an ATM owner fee may apply)
    No account keeping/monthly fees
    Extensive ATMs and branches worldwide
    Linked VISA debit not credit - no credit check required
    Free wine at participating restaurants within Australia
    In USA many 7/11 have Citibank ATMs in store. (at least on West Coast)
    Some drawbacks include an average-poor online banking system, slow registration process (often requiring visiting a branch or Australia post to confirm identity), and no security chip in the card. However, for a fee-free debit card that anyone old enough can apply for, it is a real competitor to the other options. Note: it seems this card does not permit being linked to a Paypal account.

    *Edit: That last line is not correct. A Citibank Visa Debit card can be linked to a Paypal account but you must ensure that Citibank has linked your Citibank Plus account to the Debit card as the “primary” account. That way you can pay via Paypal with no foreign conversion fee (providing you make the right selections in Paypal during the payment, ie. select to pay in the foreign currency and don't have Paypal do the conversion).

    *Edit: You can now get a Citibank Debit card with a chip
    micko
    1st Dec 2014
    7:06pm
    Talk to the bank....there are no conversion fees.

    Citibank Plus Account

    The VISA debit linked to the Citibank Plus Account offers no international fees for ATM withdrawals or transactions. The card features:

    No currency conversion fees with market rates ret by VISA
    No Citibank fees for international ATM withdrawals (an ATM owner fee may apply)
    No account keeping/monthly fees
    Extensive ATMs and branches worldwide
    Linked VISA debit not credit - no credit check required
    Free wine at participating restaurants within Australia
    In USA many 7/11 have Citibank ATMs in store. (at least on West Coast)
    Some drawbacks include an average-poor online banking system, slow registration process (often requiring visiting a branch or Australia post to confirm identity), and no security chip in the card. However, for a fee-free debit card that anyone old enough can apply for, it is a real competitor to the other options. Note: it seems this card does not permit being linked to a Paypal account.

    *Edit: That last line is not correct. A Citibank Visa Debit card can be linked to a Paypal account but you must ensure that Citibank has linked your Citibank Plus account to the Debit card as the “primary” account. That way you can pay via Paypal with no foreign conversion fee (providing you make the right selections in Paypal during the payment, ie. select to pay in the foreign currency and don't have Paypal do the conversion).

    *Edit: You can now get a Citibank Debit card with a chip

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